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This weekend will be a big one for triathletes planning out their 2008 season as several big races open registration. Set your alarms on Saturday to snag a spot in St. Anthony's Triathlon, the Wildflower Triathlons Festival and the Escape From Alcatraz lottery. Then start the workweek off by registering for the Los Angeles Triathlon on Monday morning.

 

St. Anthony's Triathlon, April 25 through 27, kicks off many a triathlete's season in St. Petersburg, Florida. The race is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2008. It starts off on Friday with a fitness expo and the black-tie Medallion Gala. Saturday's Meek & Mighty Triathlon is actually two races: a 100-yard swim/3.6-mile bike/half-mile run tri for kids age 7 to 10, and a 200-yard swim/5.4-mile bike/1-mile run race for novice triathletes age 11 and over.

 

Sunday, April 27, is the Olympic-distance St. Anthony's Triathlon. Once named "Race of the Year" by USA Triathlon, St. Anthony's draws elite triathletes from all over the world competing for $60,000 in prizes ( Mike Reed, Greg Bennett, Craig Alexander and Chris McCormack rounded out the top four pro men in 2007; top-three women were Michelle Dillon, Sarah Haskins and Julie Dibens.) A great place to watch and learn.

 

There's also an elite amateur division for fleet-footed age groupers. Limited to 4,000 individuals and 100 relay teams, last year's event sold out in seven hours. Registration opens December 1 at 9 a.m. EST.

 

Read or share stories of past experiences at this message board post: #.

 

Also beginning registration on Saturday is the Wildflower Triathlons Festival. Featuring a 70.3-distance long course race, a sprint-distance mountain bike race and an Olympic-distance tri over three days in early May, Wildflower continues to be one of the most talked-about West coast races. Read Everyman Triathlete Roman Mica's race review (including need-to-know secrets) of the 2007 25th anniversary race here.

 

December 1 is also the day when lottery applications are available for the drawing to participate in the Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon. The notorious course starts with a plunge from a ferry into the waters off Alcatraz Island, then consists of a 1.5-mile swim, 1-mile run, 18-mile bike and 8-mile run, including the infamous 400-step Sand Ladder.

 

And on Monday, December 3, registration opens for the Los Angeles Triathlon. Featuring both Olympic and sprint-distance races, the event is part of the Life Time Fitness Series, which draws some of the best triathletes in the world.

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